Dear blessed St. Lukers,
In September, I spent the day at home cleaning and putting out fall decorations while my all-time favorite show, The West Wing, was on in the background. By coincidence, it happened to be a Thanksgiving episode. In the episode, CJ gets stuck with two live turkeys in her office having to decide which turkey will receive the official “Presidential pardon.” She also has to learn and lead the official song for the day, “We Gather Together”. She claims she knows the words, but another character asks ”but do you know what they mean?” Needless to say, I’ve been singing the song since then and thinking about this sermon series. We can’t really LEAD that which we have not LEARN, not only in memorization but in our hearts with understanding.
This year the words “we gather together” bring tears to my eyes. After 2020, when so many spent last year around tables with fewer people or finding ways to have meals over facetime and zoom, we do not take for granted the hopes we have to gather together this Thanksgiving and in the coming holiday season. Last week our sanctuary held the most people it has seen in its pews since 2020 and I believe the walls joined me with a sigh of gratitude and praise to God. We Gather Together will probably be the tune in our hearts for the rest of the year.
But what do we make of the rest of those words? “He chastens and hastens his will to make known” What is this will God wants to make known? “Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine.” How is God joining us to maintain and order God’s Kingdom? These moments happen among us even at Thanksgiving and in the Advent season that begins Sunday.
- God’s will is chastened and hastened as we gather at tables of grace and love and give thanks to God for the blessings we see in the faces of those we love.
- God’s Kingdom is ordered and maintained when we make space at our tables for those who might otherwise be alone.
- God’s Kingdom is ordered when we remember others might not have the bountiful meal and we give extra and above to our Giving Tuesday offering for children who are hungry.
- God’s will is made known when we take the time to call and check in on the neighbor or friend who has suffered loss, or who needs a reminder of how beloved they are to another.
- God’s Kingdom will be revealed as we gather for Advent and intentionally prepare our lives and families not only for the memory of the first moment of Incarnation at Christmas but for the moment when Christ will come again and God will bring the full reality of God’s Kingdom on earth.
When God’s people, as students of Jesus, intentionally LEAD lives worthy of his calling and Love God through loving others, God is beside us, guiding us and God’s will is made known. May this day and every day be a day to give thanks to the Creator of our blessed lives and to LEAD our lives in ways that express our thanks and praise to God’s abundant love.
God’s blessings, grace, love, and peace,